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Power Lords By Joe
When the Masters of the Universe burst onto the scene in 1982, several toy
companies tried to come up with something which would do just as well as He-Man
and the gang. One line of figures came from an unlikely source in 1983. The
line was the Power Lords - the extra terrestrial warriors, a full out science
fiction line made by the Revell company. Revell was not known for making action
figures but was regarded one of the best when it comes to making model kits.
To aid with the design of the toys Revell hired SciFi illustrator Wayne Barlowe, who
wrote Barlowe's guide to Extra Terrestrials. The result were some of the most
unique and highly detailed alien figures ever made. Just look at the amazing texture
on the skin of Sydot sometime.
The story of Power Lords concerns Adam Power (whose face was a little too generic but very realistic), an earthling who is given the Power Jewel, an item of cosmic might, which allows him to change into Lord Power, a blue-skinned humanoid with red veins revealed on the outside. With these cosmic powers, Adam must face the greatest threat to the galaxy in the form of the evil dictator, Arkuss. Arkuss is best described as a purple mosquito with crab-like claws and red wings. Arkuss is nearly invincible - never needing to eat or sleep. Arkuss is determined to take Adam's Power Jewel as well as his secret stronghold, Volcan Rock and use it's weaponry to conquer the galaxy.
Shaya, The Queen of Power (a humanoid with a third eye who has cosmic might equal to Adam's and can change into a red alien form that gives off an intense heat), and Sydot the Supreme (an alien scientific genius who can best be described as Dr.Zarkov meets Mr. Spock meets Barney the Dinosaur) teamed up with Adam to help battle Arkuss.
But evil Arkuss also has helpers in the form of the loyal alien Shock Trooper called Raygoth (billed as the goon of doom) and Ggripptogg a four armed brute who hates to serve Arkuss because before Arkuss came along, Ggripptogg was the big bad guy of the galaxy and then Arkuss took it all away.
Each figure had an action feature of some sort. Adam could change into Lord Power by pushing a button to turn his torso around to reveal the Lord Power side. Shaya was a 2-sided figure who you changed by turning her cape around and removing the odd hat she wore. Arkuss' wings flapped. Each figure also came with a filecard which described the character and demonstrated how to initiate his special powers. Here are where the figures are from, according to the filecards:
Adam Power: Earth Shaya: The ancient world of Meru Sydot: Rana, the water planet Arkuss: hatched from an asteoid (no planet would ever claim a being so evil) Raygoth: Flozar 8 Ggripptogg: the planet Ferricon
What's an action figure line with out vehicles and a playset? The Power Lords had some really wild accessories. The Power Lords had the Power ship which looks like a huge shoe and featured pop out blades as well as a deflector shield. The evil Arkuss had Trigore. It's hard to describe this thing. It's sort of a living ship. It's a creature with crushing jaws which functions like a starship as well as a sort of cosmic bloodhound. It's a real oddity! Volcan Rock was Adam's headquarters and had all sorts of features (elevator, weapon rack, trap door, etc.) and looked like an active volcano on the outside.
A 3 issue comic book series by DC Comics came out the same year and frankly, was nothing special. It essentially just told the story of Adam's attemp to stop Arkuss after he steals Volcan Rock. Poor Sydot was portrayed as a cowardly con artist, instead of the scientist. It should be noted that the books were illustrated by Mark Texiera who would go on to fame in the 90's for drawing the Ghost Rider comic.
The line was not a huge seller when it came out due to many factors. The primary reason has to be the figures, which were not the best in quality and often their action feature either broke after use or was broken when before the figure was removed from the package. The plastic they used aparently was the same as the one they used for their model kits which was too brittle and did not stand up well to rough play. Another issue had to be the fact that Adam and Shaya just looked a little too bizarre with their 2 sided features. Adam was done with an odd yellow skin color which did not look well on him. You want the lead character to look the best and Adam was not up to the challenge. Both of these Adam amd Shaya just hung on the shelves up until 1987, 4 years after they were reduced for clearance.
Another problem with the line is that it had no cartoon to support it. A cartoon was what helped cement He-Man into the public's mind and back in the 80's it was essential to many a line's success. I would also say the timing of their release them was off. If they hadn't released them while the He-Man juggernaut was at full steam, they might have done better.
Despite the problems, the line was strong enough for a second season of figures and vehicles to be released. However, when all the 2nd season stuff was released it was all quickly reduced for clearance so it got picked up at discount prices. This series featured better quality figures, including new aliens. All the aliens would be evil (I guess Adam, Shaya and Sydot were enough to save the galaxy) and 2 of them would be threats to not only Adam but Arkuss as well. Bakatak (who could shoot the row of quills on his back, hence the name) wanted to be as big a threat as Arkuss. Drrench was a long time enemy of Arkuss after he froze his wings when demonstrating his ability to shoot icy cold water out of his chest. Drrench is feared throughout the galaxy. Disguyzor could change his face four times and grow or shrink in height while Tork could spin his torso and use the natural spikes which covered it as a weapon. These last 2 aliens would join Arkuss.
Here are where the new figures came from, according to the filecards:
Bakatak: Militron the war planet Drrench: Frigidor Tork: the planet Twearth Disguyzor: Growton.
A few more ships would be made for this season. Two small one-man ships would be made, one for Adam called the Power Patroler, and one for Arkuss called the Adam Smasher. A shuttle which Adam could pilot while the other figures would ride in the cargo area would've served as a carry case was purposed, but whether this ever got past the prototype stage is unknown.
Four things which did got made towards the end were a set of creatures called Beast Machines. They were giant torsos with which could fire missles. These were released at the very end of the line and aren't well known by most Power Lords fans. Even I had never heard of them until recently. Their names were Evol, Savor, Thrash and Warbot.
Other merchandise done for the line included a video game for the Oddyessy system (which was kind of an Atari wanna be) a board game and a coloring book. In Japan a series of little wind-up toys depicting Arkuss, Sydot, Ggripptogg were made, as well as a wind-up of a red alien called Loki. Whether Loki was intended to be made a figure and whether he was to be evil or help the Power Lords is unknown. All this stuff vanished as soon as the line faltered. After the less then decent profits, Revell went back to doing what they do best, making model kits.
The Revel Power Lords figures can be bought today for as little as $10 loose and complete or up to $30 in the package. It should be noted the plastic bubble has a tendency to yellow but it doen't hurt the figure inside. Adam and Shaya are the most common and the 2nd series of aliens being a little harder to find since they were not out for long. Vulcan Rock can fetch up as much as $85 mint in box on auction sites and the remaining vehicles also can command a good price if the are complete.
Today the line is little known by kids and young collectors. However, the value of the toys on the secondary market suggests that many have fond memories for the brief time that Adam Power and the Power Lords were making the galaxy a safer place.